By: Fabian Cotter, Photography by: courtesy Bustech

QUEENSLAND’S electric bus roll-out has been “supercharged” following the government commissioning 16 Bustech e-buses – to be made on the Gold Coast – for the state’s first fully electric depot, it was announced recently.

“This isn’t just a good deal for commuters and our environment; it’s a boost to our state’s manufacturing sector, too," said deputy premier and member for Murrumba, Steven Miles.

In a move touted as a jobs boost, "…from Burleigh to North Lakes," the $15.6 million state government deal with operator Keolis Downer will also create Queensland’s first fully electric bus depot in North Lakes, at the home of Hornibrook Bus Lines, it’s been confirmed.

The first of the new buses - vehicles that will use 100 per cent renewable energy and be zero emission, the government states - is due to arrive at the North Lakes depot in September, 2022, ahead of all 16 being ready for service by late 2023.

Transport and Main Roads minister Mark Bailey says the deal signed this month would play an important part in Queensland’s Covid-19 economic recovery plan.

"This deal will see the largest rollout of electric buses in Queensland to date," Minister Bailey said.

"These buses will be built right here in Queensland, at Bustech on the Gold Coast.

"The Palaszczuk Government has made a commitment that by 2025 every new urban bus we add to the fleet in SEQ will be zero-emissions, by 2030 we’ll roll that out to the rest of the urban fleet – and, of course, we want them to be built here in Queensland.

"This agreement gives us a good head start because the first bus is due to arrive at Hornibrook’s North Lakes depot by the end of next year," he explained.

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Deputy premier and member for Murrumba Steven Miles says the agreement was a win for local commuters.

"Hornibrook Bus Lines runs bus services through our northern suburbs like North Lakes, Chermside, Mango Hill, Kallangur and Sandgate, so I can’t wait to see these quieter and cleaner vehicles on our roads," the deputy premier stated.

"This isn’t just a good deal for commuters and our environment; it’s a boost to our state’s manufacturing sector, too.

"The investment to make the North Lakes depot fully electric and build these buses on the Gold Coast is expected to support 150 jobs over the next two years.

"It’s also expected to bring more than $17 million of estimated value into the economy for local suppliers, contractors, which is the kind of investment we need right now."

Assistant minister for Hydrogen Development and the 50 per cent Renewable Energy by 2030 Target Lance McCallum says the electric bus rollout was a key part of the Palaszczuk Government’s renewable energy commitments.

"By 2030, 50 per cent of our state’s energy will be from renewable sources and this deal with Keolis Downer will play its role in helping Queensland meet that target," minister McCallum said.

"While this depot and locally built buses will be electric, we are also keen to encourage the use of renewable hydrogen in transport.

"Our investment in renewable hydrogen production as a cleaner, cheaper fuel gives us potential to create jobs, reduce transport emissions and export Queensland’s renewables to the world.


"We want to continue to position Queensland to take advantage of emerging technologies and mobility options."
Member for Bancroft Chris Whiting congratulated Keolis Downer, which owns Hornibrook Bus Lines, on the zero-emissions initiative.

"Reducing emissions in our transport sector is a major challenge and we can only be successful through partnerships between government and industry like this one," Whiting said.

"Once completed, Hornibrook’s North Lakes depot will no longer house diesel buses and will be home to the 16 new electric buses exclusively.

"A full electric depot means reduced noise and no diesel emissions for our community.

"That will save 13,846 tons of carbon emissions over the life of the buses."
Member for Kurwongbah Shane King says he welcomes electric vehicles moving people around his electorate.

"Hornibrook Bus Lines delivers key services to Petrie Station and the surrounding areas, and I can’t wait to see them go electric," Kind said.

"When passengers jump on these buses for the first time next year, they’ll be helping to improve the environment, while getting a cleaner, smoother ride.

"This rollout will also create more jobs for the area, and support local suppliers and contractors, driving our economic recovery from Covid-19."

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Keolis Downer CEO David Franks says it was a significant moment for the business in Queensland.

"We are proud to be partnering with the Queensland Government to transition our North Lakes depot to 100 per cent battery electric buses," Franks said.

"This means the depot will be using 100 per cent renewable energy, to power a fleet of electric buses, making it a first in Australia and cementing Keolis Downer’s commitment to accelerate the energy transition with large-scale deployments in public transport.

"With this project, we are also encouraging local manufacturing through our partnership with Bustech Group, Australia’s leading bus manufacturer, based in Burleigh Heads.

"Bustech Queensland will manufacture the 16 Australian-designed and engineered electric buses in their facility in the Gold Coast, bringing more than $17 million of estimated value into the economy for local suppliers, contractors and local job creation."

Bustech Group executive chairman Christian Reynolds says the company was excited to be involved in the project.

"Bustech Group is delighted to partner with Keolis Downer to deliver Australian-designed, engineered and manufactured zero-emission buses with the most energy-dense battery solution," Reynolds said.

"Manufactured in Queensland, Bustech’s all-electric ZDi is built with the highest local content of any electric bus available on the Australian market.

"These 16 new electric buses will provide Queensland with cleaner, quieter transport whilst also supporting employment opportunities, the local supply chain, the renewables industry and generating lasting economic benefits," Reynolds explained.

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